My Husband Says He Doesn’t Reach Out To Me After His Affair Because He’s Afraid Of Rejection

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are torn between the need for physical reassurance after their husband’s affair and of the feeling that they are unsure about wanting affection from a man who cheated on them. And yet, some of them admit that they needn’t have worried about this in the first place because their husband isn’t being overly affectionate anyway, even though he’s sometimes claiming that he wants to save the marriage.

I heard from a wife who said: “about four weeks ago, my husband admitted to an affair but told me that it had been over for weeks. I don’t know the other woman. Apparently he met her on a business trip and she lives about 45 minutes away so it’s not as if I’ll have to see her all of the time. It’s a positive thing that she won’t be in our lives. But even without her presence, we’re struggling. My husband is telling me with words that he wants to save our marriage and that I’m the most important thing to him, but his physical actions say otherwise. He never tries to hug or kiss me. He never reaches out to me. The other night, I told him that I really needed to feel desired by him because his actions leave me wondering if he has lost his desire for me. He says that this isn’t the case, but admitted that he holds back physically because he’s afraid of rejection. It’s as if he’s waiting for me to show affection to him first. I am resisting this because I’m the one who was wronged. Why should I have to be the one to approach and reassure him? There’s something very backward about that. He should be the one offering physical reassurance to me. What can I do about this?”

This situation isn’t an uncommon one. And both people here are reacting to insecurities and to the fear of being rejected. The wife took her husband’s lack of affection as an indication that he was no longer physically attracted to her. Many wives take this a step farther and will theorize that he cheated because she no longer attracted him sexually. But, frankly, if you were to ask the husband about this, he will usually deny it and tell you that the truth is just the opposite of this, which leads me to my next point.

He’s Often Telling You The Truth When He Admits That He Fears Your Rejection: I have many husbands comment about this on my blog. Many of them want to give you physical affirmation and reassurance, but they hesitate because they think that you don’t want it. They believe that it will make you angry because you might think things like “well he must think  that we can pick up right where we left off. How dare he try to be intimate with me right now.” Or they will theorize that you will think that they want to have sex at just about any time regardless of the circumstances. In short, they often fear that you are going to recoil at their touch or at the very least question their motives.

So they wait for you to make the first move to signal that it’s OK for the two of you to exchange physical reassurances. And in the meantime, you are often waiting for him to do the same. So no one gets what they are hoping for and both people are assuming that the other one is rejecting them for very different reasons. This doesn’t do anything to make the situation better which is why I believe honest and open communication is vital.

How To Tell Him That You Need For Him To Put His Fear Of Rejection Aside: Obviously, if things continued on this way, this couple’s marriage could potentially get worse and deteriorate more. So I encouraged the wife to speak up. Understandably, she didn’t think it was fair that she was the one who had to take the initiative.  And although she was right about this, if someone didn’t take the lead, the pain and uncertainty was going to continue.

So I suggested that when they were both calm and receptive, she might say something like: “I know that you’ve told me that you aren’t reaching out because you fear my rejection, but I need for you to make the effort anyway. Because when you don’t, I can’t help but assume that you don’t want me and aren’t attracted to me. I can’t promise you that there won’t be days when I won’t be as receptive to your touch as others, but I need for you to try just the same. It isn’t my intention to reject you and I need that physical reassurance.”

And when your husband makes an attempt to comply, do your best to be as receptive as is appropriate for you. Sure, you may not be ready to pick up an intense sexual relationship until you’ve healed from the infidelity. But with a little honestly and communication, you can still get that physical affirmation at a level where you are both comfortable. Because if no one is reaching out, then the doubts remain and things typically only deteriorate more from there.

Touch and intimacy can be very difficult after infidelity.  That’s why it’s so important to keep the communication open.  It took me a long time to realize this after my own husband’s affair.  But once we started talking, our physical relationship improved.  If if helps, you can read the whole story on my blog

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